x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Light wind, stiff task for Aqua

Team Aqua - the championship leader who struggled in yesterday's match races - require strong fleet race performances to hold on to their lead.

With the Sea Dubai RC44 Gold Cup match racing wrapped up, the 10 crews now face three gruelling days of non-stop regattas to determine the fleet race winner. A minimum of three regattas, one per day, must be completed. But a maximum of four per day, or 12 in total, are possible, depending on the weather. The match and fleet race results will combine to decide the overall winner, and with double points on offer for this season-ending round of the six-event series, Team Aqua - the championship leader who struggled in yesterday's match races - require strong fleet race performances to hold on to their lead.

"It's a different story altogether when we start fleet racing," said Cameron Appleton, the Team Aqua skipper. "You're racing 10 boats on the same start, not just one. We'll be fighting for our lives." Feeble winds are expected again today, but Appleton said the rival RC44 crews will be put to the test in the calm conditions. "The light breeze has evened things up and made things harder - the guy with the best patience is the winner. The beauty of these boats is that they really sail well in the light conditions," he said

One of Appleton's rival skippers, Morgan Larson of BMW Oracle Racing, concurred. "It will be a challenge and boat speed is going to vital. If you look at it now, Ceeref [the match race winners] seem to be one of the fastest boats out there, they have the upper hand," he said. "But Team Aqua have the most experience in these waters and they are a solid team that has been together for a real long time.

"Those two teams are the ones to look out for, the rest of us are looking to get into the top three and be on the podium," he added. "Maybe the fact we are fresh and hungry will give us an edge." @Email:emegson@thenational.ae